Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Fortune Telling: A Booming Business in Iran Cyberspace

Fortune-tellers are cashing in on the laxity of rules in the virtual space to expand their business in Iran.

The Persian-language Jame Jam newspaper has, in an article, elaborated on the thriving business of fortune-tellers in the Iranian cyberspace. The following is the full text of the piece:

Fortune tellers and geomancers have tiptoed into the virtual space. Their number as well as the number of their fans is growing. Their audiences are interested to know what future holds, and this is exactly the weak point that fortune-tellers cash in on.

Psychics have had pages of their own on Instagram for quite some time with large numbers of followers. They have channels and groups on Telegram, too. They also advertise their work in other channels and groups which have a lot of fans. They tell you about the unknown future, and their advertisements easily reach users to become their fans.


A Quick Search in Virtual Space and It’s Done

It is not difficult to find modern fortune-tellers, who have updated themselves in tandem with science and technology, and who offer their services online on the Internet and social media. All you have to do is search the phrase “fortune telling” on Instagram. Then you will get pages with a considerable number of followers, from 10 to 131 thousand.

Fortune-tellers working in the virtual space have a whole variety of services to offer: Tarot reading, coffee reading, card reading, Oracle reading, Madame Lenormand reading! Some fortune-tellers break spells, too. They make the beloved return to the lover, solve problems, and even guarantee that two people match each other based on the positions of stars.


Online Fortune-Tellers’ Business Booming

They offer mobile phone numbers or Telegram links to the public to contact them.

We call one of these numbers. A young lady answers and says she is too busy and cannot accept any new clients for the next 15 days!

After our insistence, she tells us the list of prices: “Coffee reading Rls.350,000, Tarot reading Rls.450,000 – coffee and Tarot reading together Rls.500,000.” Then she says, “If you want to know whether it is good or not to do something, transfer Rls.200,000 to my bank card No. … in the name of …, send me a photo of the receipt, and wait for your turn. Then contact me again on this number, I’ll read your fortune while I’m on the phone and tell you whether or not it would be advisable to do what you have in mind.”

The next number belongs to another young lady who claims she can break the jinx and find love for people. On her Instagram page, you may find lots of screenshots of her conversations with her clients for whom she claims she has been able to find a partner for marriage. She asks for Rls.1,000,000 to open up the gateways to happiness for those looking for a spouse! Just Rls.1,000,000!


Cyberspace: An Assist to Offenders

But how is it that people involved in these sorts of jobs have rushed to the cyberspace? We put the question to Ja’far Bai, the former head of the Judiciary’s department responsible for social affairs and preventing social maladies.

“People working in these fields are not allowed to work in the real world and face limitations to offering their services. Now the virtual space has given them the chance to work,” says the sociopathologist.

“We are witnessing that the virtual space has provided them with an all-out organized opportunity, which serves as an assist to them to render their services. They take advantage of this chance, play it safe and usually do not swallow the bait,” he said.

He says the way to tackle the social malady is to focus on fortune-tellers’ target groups.

“In my idea, it would be hard to counter banned activities such as fortune telling, selling alcoholic beverages, etc. in the virtual space. But if we focus on their target groups, we will naturally achieve better results. The reason is when there is no demand, there is no supply, either.”


Profiteers Cashing in on Laxity of Rules in Virtual Space

The great demand for the services offered by banned professions in the virtual space can have different reasons. Aziz Najafpour, a cyberspace expert, says the key reason is the way that the virtual space is managed.

“The virtual space is a space where our domination over it has not been stabilized; we have not yet been able to clarify, stabilize and put into effect our legal, economic, cultural and …rules in the space; as a result, the virtual space turns into a place for crimes and offenses, which, will gradually poison positive economic, social, political, cultural and … activities as well,” he says.

Hassan Norouzi, the spokesperson for the Iranian Parliament’s Judicial and Legal Commission, has also weighed in on the violations committed in the virtual space by those doing banned jobs.

“Since all these activities are public and their consequences affect the whole society, they are considered offenses; so, even if no one has filed a complaint against them, it is possible to sue them. The prosecutor and public prosecutor can file a lawsuit against them. Even the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology can do it.”


Cyber-Police Monitoring Offences in Virtual Space

Every now and then, newspapers and news agencies carry news of cyber-charlatans being apprehended, among them fortune-tellers and geomancers. The news reports show despite the laxity of rules on activities in the virtual space, the Cyber-police have, as a legal entity, shouldered part of the responsibility in this regard.

“Under the law, any action regarded as an offense or crime in the real world is also considered the same in the cyberspace; accordingly, the Cyber-police have a duty to monitor, control and deal with such activities, and they are discharging this responsibility at the moment,” says Colonel Javad Jahanshiri, the Cyber-police chief in the northeastern Iranian province of Khorasan Razavi.

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